About 3 years after I graduated from university as an international student, I was working for an organization that decided to not sponsor my working visa anymore. For those that don't know about immigration law in the USA, once your visa ends, you have 6 months to find a new employer to sponsor a new visa, or you must go back to your country. You are not able to work until you have a new visa, so you are caught in a tough position in which you must work and get paid "under the table", income that you can't report. While I was looking for jobs, I did everything and anything I could to stay afloat. I started tutoring math, English, Spanish, and sciences. I did landscape work, promoted events, and worked at a friend's food truck. Even with all those random jobs, it was quite hard to survive paying rent, buying groceries, and paying bills. One month I was short on money for rent and had it not been for my parents' help, I would have not been able to stay at my place and would have ended up on the streets.
I think of other people that don't have the privilege of having parents that can help occasionally, with money. I think of refugees crossing country lines they never meant to cross. I think about undocumented immigrants that have it almost impossible to gain citizenship or residency in countries where they went for better opportunities. I think of those with mental health issues or medical problems that appeared out of nowhere. I think of queer kids getting kicked out of their homes for being who they are. I think about people that didn't have the chance to get an education and earn more money in their jobs. I think about rent prices going up everywhere, inflation worldwide, gentrification, conflicts, and wars, racism - past and present, and the global shortages of food, housing, jobs, and other resources. How is it possible that a handful of billionaires are living in countries where other people cannot afford a safe, secure house in which to live? How can this be?
In the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25 states the following: Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care, and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
So according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Housing is a human right.
What has caused the global housing crisis - and how can we fix it?
- By 2025, according to the World Bank, the housing crisis could impact 1.6 billion people.
- Shortages of land, lending, labor, and materials are some of the factors fueling the housing crisis.
- The UN-Habitat predicts the world needs to build 96,000 new affordable homes every day to house the estimated 3 billion people who will need access to adequate housing by 2030.
- Efforts to build more affordable homes are underway in countries including the United States, India, Scotland, and Africa.
- Housing is a basic human need, but a lack of affordable housing to buy or rent is fueling a global housing crisis.
- In most countries, the cost of housing has grown faster than incomes
- In a study of 200 cities globally, 90% were found to be unaffordable to live in, with the average home costing more than three times the average income.
- The United States alone is short of 1.5 million homes, according to a study by financial research company Moody's Analytics. The country has less housing for sale or rent than at any time in the past 30 years.
Homelessness and the housing crisis are everywhere. It's visible. It's sad. It's enraging. I think the most frustrating part is not knowing what to do, or how to help.
In an intent to inform more people on things that are being done and how we can take part in these efforts, we have come up with a new webinar series here at the Charter that will show how some partner organizations in the USA, are doing the work to, in a way, address the problem of people experiencing homelessness in their own communities. Solutions are different but there will be lots of Tiny homes, Micro homes, 3D printing, cottages, etc. in these discussions.
Our "Housing is a Human Right" webinar series begins Tuesday July 26 at 8 am PDT. Click/Tap here to learn more and register. We start with our first webinar introducing all the participating organizations: Community First! in Austin, TX; The Other Side Village in Salt Lake City, UT; SquareOne Villages in Eugene, Cottage Grove, and Springfield, OR; Eden Village in seven cities, in four states: Missouri, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania; and Techo, in Monterrey, Mexico. And from then on, each organization will be able to talk in depth about their projects in their own hour long webinar.
July 26 - Introduction to Webinar Series - All 5 organizations will share a glimpse of their projects and their "why".
August 2 - Community First!
August 9 - SquareOne Villages
August 16 - The Other Side Village
August 23 - Eden Village
August 30 - Techo
(maybe) More To Be Announced!
As I share with you my thoughts, I want to leave you with 3 challenges:
- Join us for the webinar series!
- remind yourself that people ARE NOT homeless. Homelessness is not an identity – People experience homelessness, they aren't homeless. It helps you see the limitation of this "period" and not see it as an identity.
- When you see someone that is experiencing homelessness, instead of avoiding them, look at them in the eyes. Acknowledge their existence. See their humanity, the same one you have. And Help them if you can.
Invite your friends, people involved in city governments, friends in compassionate cities, and compassionate schools. This might be the inspiration you didn't even know you needed to help end homelessness from our communities.
This message from Felipe Zurita, Marketing Director of the Charter for Compassion, appears in our 7/16/2022 weekly newsletter. To sign up for our newsletter, scroll all the way down to the end of this page to get to the bottom menu; in the newsletter section, enter your email address and click on subscribe.